Interesting Stuff – Good Stuff This Week

  • Bruce Bartlett (a Republican) does a pretty good job defusing myths and fears about the federal debt at  What is the National Debt? He still misses how a deficit is necessary to ensure an adequate money supply without forcing the private sector to go into increasing debt, but overall good job.  No monsters here, so let’s move along.
  • Bill Black, one of very few criminologists to study how corporations commit crime, on Top Ten Ways to Crack Down on Corporate Financial Crime.

Unemployment in Michigan (the others are catching up)

From Calculated Risk today.  The state unemployment numbers for February are out.  Michigan, not surprisingly, still leads with 14.3%.  But, and I think this is the important part, Michigan is losing it’s lead.  6–10 months ago, Michigan was recording unemployment in the mid-15%’s.  That was the highest in the nation and easily 3-4 points higher than anyone else.  But, ever since GM and Chrysler came out of bankruptcy there has been a slow but steady drop in the rate. It’s now down to 14.3%.  Meanwhile several other states have continued to worsen, especially Nevada, California, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. They all hit new all-time highs this month.

So it’s good news, good news, and bad news for Michigan.  The first good news is unemployment is going the right direction – down. The second good news is that relative to other states, Michigan doesn’t look quite so awful anymore (misery loves company). Basically Michigan has already swallowed the bitter pill of restructuring with the auto company bankruptcies.  The bad news is that eventually, to keep the improvement going, we need the rest of the country to improve too.  Ultimately that’s our market.

From the BLS: Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary

Thirty states and the District of Columbia recorded over-the-month unemployment rate increases, 9 states registered rate decreases, and 11 states had no rate change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the year, jobless rates increased in all 50states and the District of Columbia.

Michigan again recorded the highest unemployment rate among the states, 14.3 percent in January. The states with the next highest rates were Nevada, 13.0 percent; Rhode Island, 12.7 percent; South Carolina, 12.6 percent; and California, 12.5 percent. North Dakota continued to register the lowest jobless rate, 4.2 percent in January, followed by Nebraska and South Dakota, 4.6 and 4.8 percent, respectively. The rates in California and South Carolina set new series highs, as did the rates in three other states: Florida (11.9 percent), Georgia (10.4 percent), and North Carolina (11.1 percent). The rate in the District of Columbia (12.0 percent) also set a new series high.
emphasis added

State Unemployment Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the high and low unemployment rates for each state (and D.C.) since 1976. The red bar is the current unemployment rate (sorted by the current unemployment rate).

Fifteen states and D.C. now have double digit unemployment rates. New Jersey and Indiana are close.

Five states and D.C. set new series record highs: California, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. Two other states tied series highs: Nevada and Rhode Island.